Jingle Bells

The three-year-olds in C-1 spread joy and cheer through Chilton House as they went caroling through the building carrying homemade jingle bells.  Happy holidays!!


Many Hands Make Light Work

Mrs. Bhagia's fourth grade and Mrs. Ebeling's first grade buddy classes work together to create a "handmade" friendship wreath to decorate Little School's lobby.

They experienced the value of cooperation and the joy of giving.


EMS Students Participate in MOOC Event on Minecraft in Education

Recently some of our fourth, fifth and sixth graders had the opportunity to teach teachers from around the world!

The Elisabeth Morrow School was invited to host the kick off event for the Games MOOC
(Massively Open Online Course) weekend focused on using Minecraft in education. We hosted an open house on Morrowcraft , our 24/7 Minecraft server, to showcase student work. Students were in the game to welcome visiting teachers and answer their questions. They were able to participate either from home or school. Ms. Malmstrom and Ms Rolle coordinated the activities at school and Ms. Malmstrom helped facilitate the event both on and off-line.

The logistics of running a MOOC event in real time to such large audiences around the world is quite amazing. Facilitators of the Games MOOC hosted commentary of our live event using a Google Hangout that was simultaneously streamed via YouTube. Participants were able to ask questions in the YouTube chat and the facilitators relayed them back to us in the Google Hangout. This event was also discussed on Twitter using #gamemooc. Two of our sixth graders were also tweeting on behalf of the EMS students. Our guest moderator was Dr. Bronwyn Stuckey from Sydney, Australia.

Our students were so impressive. Several shared how Mrs. Bliesener’s class is using Minecraft this year in social studies. Some students gave tours of all the wonderful things they have built. Others showed how they create circuits with red stone and so much more. Mrs. Goldman and Mr. Baly also contributed their perspective as both educators and parents.


We are Bucket Fillers!

We are Bucket Fillers! The kindergarteners in C2 have created a bucket-filling classroom. First, we read the book
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids,  by Carol McCloud. Then we discussed and listed the many ways that we can fill each others buckets every day.  The "buckets" represent our state of mind and well being, and the language of bucket filling has become synonymous with kindness and the 4 C’s at EMS.

The children are motivated and excited about being bucket fillers by helping one another, working together, demonstrating kindness and showing appreciation.  They are learning that when they help to fill other peoples buckets, they are actually filling their own buckets as well.


Getting Ready for the Little School Holiday Program

Recently, the fourth grade recorder ensemble practiced for the Little School Holiday Program.  They will be joining the fourth grade band, cellists, and violinists in performing "Ode to Joy" on Friday, December 20.  Performing in an ensemble teaches students to work together, listen to each other and follow a conductor.  It also strengthens individual musicianship, as each student learns that their part is important, and makes the whole group's performance successful.


Getting Ready for Regrouping!

In preparation for regrouping double digit numbers the second graders counted up large collections of items found in the classroom. In doing so, they discovered ways to do this most efficiently was to separate the items into larger and easier to count groups. They learned that counting by tens was easiest and then adding the ones left over for an accurate total.


Happy Thanksgiving - In Spanish

Mrs. Barile's second grade class learned to say happy Thanksgiving in Spanish and practiced saying thank you for the people and things they love the most!


EMS Students Excel in Math League Competition!

By Carol Toth, Math Teacher 
On Wednesday, November 13, 24 elementary students (two teams of four students each in third, fourth and fifth grades) traveled to Rutgers Preparatory School to participate in the Math League elementary school contest. This is the third year that our students have participated. Nine schools were at the contest with approximately 125 students. The contest consisted of many parts including a team part, a number sense round and some sections where a calculator could be used. The students from Elisabeth Morrow did exceptionally well. Our third grade teams came in first and sixth place. Our fourth grade teams came in second and fourth and our two fifth grade teams garnered both first and second place in their respective grades. Individually, our students excelled as well. In third grade: Harrison White came in second, Yoel Zachariah came in fifth and Andrew Hyde came in 10th. In fourth grade we had six students in the top ten: second place went to Henry Choi, fifth to Ian Maloney, sixth to
James Grant, seventh to Andrew Hyde, ninth to Rohan Buluswar, and 10th to Thomas Grant.  Our fifth graders made a clean sweep. Shelby Kim came in first, Peter Staphos second, Aidan Kim third, Garo Amerkanian fourth, John Mauro fifth, and Ronit Malde seventh. Congratulations to our outstanding competitors.

Not to be outdone, on Thursday, November 14, 21 of our middle school students traveled to Far Hills Country Day School to participate in our first ever middle school competition with the Math League. In this competition, we fared extremely well also. Five schools with 26 teams and approximately 100 students were there. Our teams took second, third and fifth place. Our students scored well individually as well. In sixth grade: Sangmin Lee was 10th, Cole Knie was seventh, Cameron Woo was fourth, Oren Berkowitz second and Reha Mathur was the first place winner. In seventh grade: James Wedgbury placed seventh, Allison DeRose placed fifth and Tanvi Jonnalagadda placed third.  Austin Kwak was the second place finisher and Shant Amerkanian was the first place winner. In eighth grade,Kira Trout placed 10th, Chrissie Anagnos fourth, and Emily Yu place third. The contest also had a countdown round pitting students against one another in 45-second bouts. Only the top students from all the schools were invited to participate. As the anticipation mounted to see which students would be chosen, once again Elisabeth Morrow outshone all others. Of the 12 students chosen to be in the countdown round, we had seven: Austin Kwak, Tanvi Jonnalgadda, Reha Mathur, Chrissie Anagnos, Allison DeRose, Shant Amerkanian, and Emily Yu. It was very stressful being under the time constraints but we made it to the semi finals, being beaten at the last moment by two students from Warren Township Middle School Schools. Kudos to all the students who participated.


Happy Birthday Gettysburg Address!

President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address,
“The world will little note nor long remember, what we say here.”

 In fact, the nation long remembers the short remarks delivered in that two-minute speech.  It reinvigorated our national ideas of liberty, equality, democracy, and unity.
The inspirational 273-word speech marked a turning point in American history and has become one of the most important statements on liberty ever written.

The eighth graders accepted the challenge to memorize and recite the words of the Gettysburg Address as they commemorated the  150th anniversary of its poetic words and powerful message. 


Visual Literacy and the Lenni Lenape

I Notice and I Wonder

Research shows that children need multiple opportunities to apply and practice what they have learned, particularly those important skills that they carry across the disciplines. At EMS, giving students opportunities and time to think creatively and critically is embedded into the curriculum design.

The third grade Lenape Research Unit provides an excellent example of how technology enhances the research process. Third graders took photographs of a recreated Lenape village on a field trip. Utilizing iPhoto, airdrop, and ComicLife, children learned to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Students uploaded photos to iPhoto, enhanced and edited, and then imported the images into ComicLife. It is through ComicLife that students began to see more clearly how to answer questions about the photos. As they looked at their images, “What do I wonder?” and “What do I notice?” were the questions students asked themselves. Noticing questions required students to look for clues in the pictures. Wondering questions led students to new sub-questions. Children collaborated by sharing their photos through AirDrop.

Whole to Part Relationships, Digging Deeper
Visual literacy is a key aspect to reading and writing. These digital tools help support picture analysis by helping to evaluate, organize, and categorize images. While looking at the “whole” image, students practiced thinking skills such as collecting evidence, identifying the main idea, and inferring. ComicLife supports children in their ability to arrange ideas in a visual format.  The design of the comic allows children to “zoom in” and “zoom out” of a picture to notice different details.  The integration of knowledge and ideas gleaned from pictures is a literacy skill that supports the development of how children demonstrate their understanding of information.


EMS Educators Bringing Maker Culture to the Classroom

Recently a team of educators from the Lower School attended a one-day workshop in New York City led by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Dr. Gary Stager, the authors of Invent to Learn, Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom.  These authors explained how to bring powerful ideas from science and the Maker Culture to the classroom. 
One of the most attractive aspects of bringing the maker culture to schools is how it values the contributions of children as inventors and innovators.  In the workshop, Dr. Stager was very direct in his message - knowledge is a consequence of experience. In the Lower School, we are constructing these kinds of problem-solving experiences for our students that emphasize doing, thinking, creating and making things better!



EMS Students Present at National Chemistry Week Celebration At LSC


Seventh grade Physical Science students at the Elisabeth Morrow School once again presented demonstrations for the North Jersey Chapter of the American Chemical Society as part of their National Chemistry Week celebration. Taking place at Liberty Science Center, this event had traditionally only featured presentations by high school and college students and teachers, as well as pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Elisabeth Morrow students have participated for the last several years-the only middle school group to do so.  Almost every seventh grade student at the school participates.

“I believe it’s important for students to see a wider community of people  getting excited about science,” says Gail Weeks, science teacher. “When students have the opportunity to feel that they are doing science, not just passively learning facts, it can be very exciting and empowering for them. Having such a positive first-hand experience at an early age can help students feel more confident in what can sometimes be viewed as an intimidating subject.”  She adds, “Students may be more likely to view science as a career option, a profession to respect, or just an area of interest as they get older.”

Volunteering to present also is a great service learning experience for EMS middle school students. “They have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and practice public speaking while having a great time- our students always tell me how much they enjoyed the day,” Weeks says.

After the event at LSC, each student receives a letter from the American Chemical Society thanking him or her for doing a presentation. A copy of this certificate goes in the students’ permanent school records. “Our students feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride after their participation. I feel so fortunate to be able to share my own enthusiasm about science with such capable students,” Weeks says. “I also love being able to show off the high caliber of our students and our science program.”


So Many Ways to Learn -- From a Pumpkin!

After an exciting visit to a pumpkin patch, Kindergarten students engaged in a variety of activities with the pumpkins at school. Each child carefully observed their own special pumpkin in order to describe its attributes through words and representational drawings and paintings. They also compared the pumpkins by identifying their similarities and differences. After putting them in size order from smallest to largest, the children predicted which would weigh the most. Predictions were also made of how many seeds there were inside...would it be more or fewer than 100? Finally, the seeds were planted to to grow a new crop for next year! 


Students as Teachers

By Jessi Almstead, First Grade Teacher
First graders and I are learning from each other in L10! So far this year, students have taught the community:
  • How to hold a violin
  • How to make a family book
  • How to make a Jamaican flag
  • How to use Spy Gear 
  • Who Ninjago is
Special Shares are perfect opportunities for students to empower themselves by taking on a teacher role, and to practice public speaking skills. For the classroom community, these are treasured moments when we get to know each other in meaningful ways.

This week, a group of students participated in an introduction to playing cello, led by one of their peers. Novice students practiced active listening while their student-teacher guided them step by step. 

We look forward to the many lessons we will learn from the teacher in each of us!


Elisabeth Morrow Math Team Places Second In Statewide Competition

On Saturday, October 19, Chrisie Anagnos, Tanvi Jonalagadda Austin Kwak, Harry Moon, Lee Staphos, Kira Trout, and Emily Yu competed in the 42nd Annual Christian Brothers
Academy Eighth Grade Math Contest. More than 200 students from 35 public, private, and parochial schools participate. In our second outing in this competition, our team again came in second place in the private/parochial school division. Austin Kwak garnered third place individually. Mrs. Toth coached the team. Congratulations to all!


Kindergarten Music Makers

Kindergarten students began their journey to musical literacy by exploring the xylophones in the music room. With a partner, the students experimented with how to make different sounds with their mallets, and many of them noticed that the bars of the instrument were labeled with letters from A to G.  This lead to a discussion about how the musical alphabet only has seven letters, then repeats.   

The students were then given the challenge to find the letter "D" on their xylophone and to play it on the steady beat while singing "Jack O Lantern."  Many of the Kindergarteners remarked on how tricky to was to play and sing at the same time, but all agreed that it was fun to be in charge of their own music making!


Buddy Day Fun

EMS' first All School Buddy Day happened earlier this month. This program is an addition to the All School Assembly program that began last year, with the grades grouped together as follows:

8th grade/3rd grade
7th grade/2nd grade
6th grade/1st grade
5th grade/Kindergarten
4th grade/Threes and Fours

Our goals are to develop lasting relationships between students and teachers, to provide opportunities for leadership and to build a strong school community.  The buddies complete projects together and have a good time learning more about their fellow EMS students!



In kindergarten, our current theme is ladybugs.  Mrs. Milne gave the children live ladybugs in science to take home and observe before letting them go.  Some of the activities we have done have been collage ladybugs, ladybug apple snacks, observational drawings.  We launched our first letter study (Ll) and made finger painted large leaves in the style of Eric Carle (whose books we have been reading, beginning with "The Grouchy Ladybug")  incorporating science mini-lesson on mixing colors as well.
The children began learning about things such as life cycles and symmetry which will be revisited.​


Thank You to the Morrow Society


The Elisabeth Morrow School thanks the Morrow Society for their leadership in providing resources for our school, and especially the Cohen family for hosting a wonderful evening under the stars in celebration of the Society's generosity. 


Middle School "Bring Your Own Laptop" Program Aids Student Productivity

The Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) program at Elisabeth Morrow got its start at the simple suggestion of fifth grade teacher Sanda Cohen.  Two years ago she asked parents to have their students bring their computers into school if they chose and almost all did.  

From that small beginning, a successful program of integrating technology into middle school life was born, and now this year, the BYOL program encompasses fifth and sixth grade.  In the 2014-2015 school year, the program will be in effect throughout Morrow House.

After Ms. Cohen’s initial request, faculty formed a committee that structured the program. Launching with fifth grade seemed best since they had their own homerooms and desks, and, as the youngest middle schoolers, the program could grow with them.  The members of the faculty committee also received extensive professional training in how to best create an effective program that would enhance and support the work students were doing in the classroom, as well as show them how to use technology to boost planning and time management skill. 
“This program requires no special software, just a computer equipped for wireless Internet access,” says Paul Baly, Middle School Head. "Everyone uses google apps. We outlined three goals for the program: for teachers and students to have immediate access to tools that will further enrich and enhance learning; to further differentiate teaching; and to help students continue to develop the skills necessary to thrive in a digital environment in a very personal way," Mr. Baly says. He adds, "We know that when students go to secondary schools that have laptop programs--and many of them do--they will be expected to use these skills from day one."

One example of those skills is two-column note taking, formally called Cornell Notes. “Our students learn how to organize their note taking in a very systematic way on the laptop,” says Baly. “This is a skill that they can carry with them through life.”  

Carolyn Bliesener, fifth grade teacher, says the laptop enables students to become self-sufficient at an early age.  “They are able to organize their schedules in google calendar, share homework using google docs, and complete tests in google forms. I can communicate via email and help students on assignments during off school hours.”  

Although the BYOL program is not yet active in seventh and eighth grades, Elisabeth Morrow has been laptop friendly for many years.  “Our goal is to someday have classrooms as close as possible to paperless,” Mr. Baly says.


Morrow House Instrumentalists Perform at Run10Feed10

For the second year, Morrow House instrumental students performed at the Run10Feed10 race in New York City.  The 10K run, in support of hunger initiatives, is sponsored by Unilever, Women's Health magazine, the Feed Foundation and Crowdwise, was held on Sunday, September 22.  Representing faculty in the race were Head of School Aaron Cooper, Middle School Head Paul Baly, and Violin Teacher Brittany Sklar.


The Perfect Fit - A Guide to the Secondary School Process

For parents of middle schoolers, the secondary school admissions process can seem daunting. How, they wonder, can the child who could barely remember homework assignments in fifth grade be expected to write multiple essays, make intelligent and engaging conversation at interviews and take a series of entrance exams?  And then, when the acceptance letters hit the mailbox, how can that same student be expected to decide on the right fit for him or her?

The Wall Outside of the Secondary School Placement Office
While the child who entered middle school and the child who is leaving may seem almost the same to parents, the truth is that they are growing and maturing quickly, something that the faculty at Morrow House recognizes, and something that Michele Bower, Director of Curriculum and Secondary School Placement, knows for sure.

“Students in schools that end at eighth grade understand the importance of the next step in their education, and understand the implications of making the right decision among several choices,” she says.  “Schools that end in eighth grade know that they have the responsibility for guiding these graduates in those choices by making sure that they find the right fit.”

Elisabeth Morrow starts the secondary school placement process in the seventh grade spring with an orientation meeting for the parents, a panel discussion with former parents and graduates and a school fair with representatives from secondary schools.  Ms. Bower then meets with parents at the end of the seventh grade to begin to flesh out a list of schools that would be a good fit for their child.

“We look at the student’s learning profile, including grades and test scores, and talk about the kind of environment the family is looking for,” she says.  “I am very familiar with the educational options in the area and I can help guide families to schools where their children will thrive just as they did at EMS.”

In the fall of the eighth grade, Ms. Bower speaks with parents at the Morrow House Back -To - School night, and begins to arrange lunches for students to visit with representatives of many secondary schools.  After school test preparation classes get underway, and students begin taking their Decisions class, where they develop their “brag sheets” (lists of activities, interests, and accolades) that will help with recommendation letters as well as interview topics and essays.  The class also dispels the myths about what high school is like and how hard it is to get in.  “Students bring up what they have heard from other students, and it may not always be accurate,” she says. “We are here to separate fact from fiction, so that they look at choosing a high school not as a trial to be endured, but rather a challenge to be embraced.”

By the time the spring rolls around, acceptances are in, tuition contracts are signed, and students start looking forward to where they will matriculate, Ms. Bower says.  “Most children don’t have the opportunity to actually pick their own high school,and feel positive and confident in that choice.  That’s a great gift that only a school that ends in eighth grade can give their students, and one that sets us apart.”